Douglas A-4P Skyhawk Argentine Air Force - Airfix 1/72 (A03029)

Hi all

For my next project I have decide to build an A-4P Skyhawk from Argentine Air Force during the Falklands conflict in 1982.

Politics aside, the conflict proved that skilled pilots can make a difference even when using an outdated, or inferior material. In this case the old and still reliable Scooter (Douglas A-4B Skyhawk).

This is a challenging subject, since the resources available are, quite often, not reliable or conflicting. I was fortunate to find an amazing tread in a scale modelling forum where the author (FAAMAN) made a comprehensive article (post) in regards to Argentinian Skyhawks.

This post will be my guide through this building, you can read it HERE.

(Images used are in the public domain and used for educational purposes only)

I have decided to built the A-4P C-242,  as seen im late May 1982. It was flown by Primer Teniente (1st Lt) Guadagnini. Unfortunately he was killed on the the 23rd during the attack to HMS Antelope. Following is the accounting for that day:

 23 MAY 1982:
A flight of four Grupo 5 A-4B Skyhawks attack in two groups. The first attack is led by Capitan Carballo with Primer teniente Alferez Gomez flying his wing. They approach HMS Antelope fast and low over the water. The results of the attack are one 1000 lb. un-exploded bomb in the Antelope's stern. It is believed that the Skyhawk piloted by Alférez H. Gómez stroke Antelope with the 1000 lb. bomb that did not explode. (Later this bomb did explode while being defused, leading to further explosions that sunk the ship.) Capaitan Carballo's Skyhawk is severely damaged by AAA and an exploding SAM, and barely escapes a second SAM. Carvballo's damaged Skyhawk makes it back to base and post-flight inspection finds a damaged fin on one of his drop tanks. This may have been caused by striking the mast rigging of the Antelope.
The second attack from this flight is flown by Primer Teniente Guadagnini and Teniente Rinke and results in another 1000 lb. unexploded bomb in the Antelope. Primer Teniente Guadagnini flying A-4B Skyhawk C-242 was killed when his Skyhawk was struck, mostly likely by a British Sea Wolf SAM from HMS Broadsword.

Later,Argentine Navy Third Escuadrilla A-4Q Skyhawks, attack the British Frigate Antelope. The Navy flight consisted of Capitan de Corbeta Castro Fox and Zubizarreta, Benitez and Oliverira. Zuizarreta would die when his aircraft, laden with un-expended ordinance he could not discard, blew a tire causing his aircraft to veer of the runway upon landing. Zuizarreta ejected but did not have the needed speed to facilitate completion of the chute deployment and was killed. His aircraft, 3-A-309 ironically was not damaged.


C-242 shot down by SAMs and AAA on the 23rd May 1982 whilst attacking HMS Antelope, the pilot Primer Teniente Guadagnini was killed, ‘B’ pattern camouflage with standard ‘official’ I.D. bands in six positions 


Photo Resource

C-242 Before applying the yellow ID bands in 6 positions


C-242 (forefront aircraft on the right) with yellow ID bands applied



Cockpit

As usual I started the construction by the "office". The ejection seat is the correct version of the Douglas Escapac 1A-1 that equipped the Skyhawks versions A, B, C & E.




  
This can be observed in this next photo

Photo via Cláudio Moura

Some interior references:










Me109G-10/U4 “"WEISSE 3" VESZPRÉM, HUNGARY FEBRUARY 1945 (PROMODELLER1/72)

Lieutenant Heinz 'Esau' Ewald Me109G-10/U4 “"Weisse 3"
(II./JG52 Veszprém, Hungary, February 1945)
PROMODELLER - 1/72


Lieutenant Heinz 'Esau' Ewald joined 5./JG52 in Russia as a young Unteroffizier (Staff Sargent) in the late summer of 1943 and flew with them for the entire duration of the war. Always regarded as one of the finest of the young pilots of JG52, he flew as wingman to Major Gerhard Barkhorn, Kommandeur of II./JG52 and second highest scoring Ace in history.
Heinz Ewald scored his 50th victory on December 29th 1944 when at Veszprém in Hungary. He flew a total of 396 missions and scored 84 victories. He was awarded the Knight's Cross in April 1945.



Bf 109 G-10 W.Nr. 610487 "Weisse 3", Lt. Heinz Ewald, II./JG 52,Veszprém, February 1945. Collection Ewald, Janowicz 2006, p. 88.

Ltn Heinz Ewald (left) and Gerd Hauter.
A G-14, note the short tail fin

Bf 109 G-10 W.Nr. 610487 "Weisse 3", Lt. Heinz Ewald, II./JG 52,Veszprém, February 1945


Bf 109 G-10 W.Nr. 610 487 "Weisse 3", Lt. Heinz Ewald, 6./JG 52, Raab, 20 February 1945. Source: Collection Ewald via Murawski and Neuwerth 2004, p. 8.

Heinz Esau Ewald (left) and Heinz Sachsenberg Veszprém 1944




Bf109G-10 of Heinz Ewald This WNF-built Bf109G-10 was flown by Heinz Ewald of II./JG52 in February 1945.The landing gear doors had been removed to prevent snow and mud from getting caught up between the doors and the leg as seen in first photo.


Here is a small translated extract from Ewald's out-of-print memoir "Wo wir sind ist immer oben "  - from The Luftwaffe Blog: http://falkeeins.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/shot-down-by-german-flak-01-march-1945.html 

"Shot down by German flak - 01 March 1945 ! 

Veszprem - Alarm ! scramble !- Eduard 'Edi' Pitzl, Gerd Hauter, Anton Kellmeier and myself, Heinz Ewald, get airborne. Over Stulhweissenburg we come under fire from Russian and then German anti-aircraft artillery. Something's up! 
"Achtung", I call over the radio " viele Indianer vor uns !  Frage Victor? "  - " lots of bandits up ahead of us, do you copy?"  For heaven's sake Esau, I think to myself, there's at least twenty silver birds, dark American stars on the wings and fuselage, right in our path. "Esau to Edi, take your wingman and climb for altitude and don't attack until you have height advantage - we'll split up now, copy. I get a 'Roger' back - Roger! Esau, I say to myself, no doubt some of these 'Boys' (sic) will try and get in behind us and " reise- resise machen ". My wingman Paul Slodczyk was already covering me and we now climbed in a north-westerly direction in order to get into a position to dive down on the Amis. While we were straining for height I called up 'Jumbo' our controller and reported contact with a large group of Americans in the hope that they might be able to launch another Schwarm but we were out of luck - it was just the four of us against more than twenty of them...combat against superior numbers had become our daily bread and so it would be today. The Amis were now over Lake Balaton at around 3,000 metres. They were getting closer to our field. They were visibly not too concerned about us, which I was glad about. I had cut off their retreat and was now about 2,000 metres higher up and almost directly over the top of them. At the same time as I called out " Pauke, Pauke" I threw my kite over onto its wingtip and dove down into the attack!  Almost simultaneously Edi Pitzl dove down and opened up on the Mustang flying on the left flank of their formation - a hit; the silver bird spun away out of control streaming smoke and a chute billowed out. I confirmed his victory and congratulated him just as 'my' 'Sibervogel' loomed large in my sight! Closing rapidly from astern I opened up - my first salvo streaked wide as the Mustang pilot threw his stick forward just as I squeezed the firing button!  My wingman also over-shot. Couldn't be helped! My "Me" (sic) was now half-way over on its back pulling hard into a tight curve. This was no firing position but I was managing to stay on my opponent's tail. Suddenly a volley of tracers split the air ahead of us - another mad Ami was letting go with all he'd got right into our circle. It turned out that this Texas 'cowboy' - who no doubt practised his sharp shooting on whiskey glasses in the saloon bar - must have scored some hits as a short while later my engine started to cough and misfire. Meanwhile the Mustang pilot was pulling a tighter and tighter turn still with two Messerschmitt 'boys' on his tail, juddering on the edge of the stall and streaming contrails from their wingtips. I gave him another salvo and then another and saw a couple of lightning flashes on his machine. Then suddenly he pulled up and in a fraction of a second I pulled back hard on the stick, my Me shuddered, and I got off two more short bursts. The Mustang's controls had been damaged - he went into a gentle turn and now all my rounds were walking into his fuselage and wings. As I broke off- almost ramming my wingman - there was an explosion in the Mustang's engine, pieces of cowling and metal skinning whirled off into the slipstream and he streamed a trail of thick dark smoke. "Esau - Abschuss!"   But now the other Americans were circling at a watchful distance - like laughing hyenas. Up to now - apart from the Texas shooter - they had - thank God - not got involved in the fight......"

Three P-51s chased Ewald's G-10/U4  (WNr. 610487) as far as Veszprem. At the controls of his lame and smoking "Me" Ewald's thoughts turned to comrade and 99-victory RK-holder Ltn Fönnekold who had been finished off by P-51s as he had tried to carry out an emergency landing in Hungary. He let down to low altitude hoping that the P-51s would be scared off by the flak - his manoeuvre resulted in his Messerschmitt coming under fire from the airfield defences!  With his aircraft taking hits and suddenly feeling nose-heavy Ewald had just enough altitude to bail out over the side of the cockpit, immediately tugging on the ripcord. Even in his chute he came under fire - German troops disembarking from a train in the vicinity of the airfield  opening up on what they thought was a Russian pilot swinging under his chute, as he was later told by eye witnesses. He came down some four kilometres from the airfield in a hard landing. Even spread-eagled on the ground, Ewald's ordeal was not over - he was approached by Hungarian workers shouting " Ruski kaputt !"  " Man Esau - die wollen dich umbringen !"  I drew my service revolver and started firing wildly over their heads..."   As his comrade Sachsenberg put it; " you poor little sod Esau - first shot down by your own flak, then shot at by German troops, even our Hungarian allies were looking to knock your block off with their pickaxes!.." 
  
During this combat Uffz. Paul Slodzyk's Bf 109 G-14/U4 (WNr. 512613) was shot down in flames south-west of Veszprem while Fj Uffz. Helmut Rudzinski managed to force land his G-6 (WNr. 442047) at Plattensee. Fw Eduard Pitzl successfully bailed out of his G-10 (WNr. 610955) over Lovas.  "



THE MODEL

I have decided to build the Promodeller Messerschmitt Bf109G-10 (85-5940) 1/72
Box art

The kit is a Revell-Monogram mould and is very well known. Very fine engraved panel lines and crisp details. It has some minor mistakes that I'll try to fix along the building process if it's possible.

Instructions 1

Instructions 2

Instructions 3

Instructions 4

Instructions 5

Instructions 6

Instructions 7

Instructions 8

Instructions 9

Instructions 10

Instructions 11

Instructions 12

Decal

Sprues in the original bag

Sprue 1

Sprue 2

Canopy

Spare propeller 



The Gustav


The Messerschmitt Bf109 "G"series were known as Gustav. The G-10 were the last G to be built and it was a transition to the definitive serie "K". Built from October 1944 until the end of the war and was produced by converting old airframes and designed to use the new and better DB605D engine. However, this engine wasn't immediately available when the first G-10 started to be built and therefore, the first batch used the DB605AS instead. These have been previously used on the G-14's.
These were known as G-10/AS.
When the DB065D was finally available the front part of the engine cowling was slightly modified with two small bumps just under the first exhaust pipe (one to each side). It also had a wider and deeper oil radiator.
As the G-10 used a variety of used airframes, different combinations could be encountered. All depended on the origin of the machine.
Most of G-10 were fitted with larger tail fin and rudder, although some had the smaller tail fin.
The ERLA hood seems to have been fitted as standard as was the radio antenna mast (FuG 16zy) under the port wing. Also the 300L drop-tank was very widely used.

The kit and the profile above suggests the airframe to represent a Bf109G-10 with Flettner tab and two fixed trim tabs, also short tail wheel and DB605D engine as found in production batches 612000 and 770000, for exemple. However, the serial number would not match the profile (610487).


Observing the photo below:

We can observe two manufacturer data plates. This was a characteristic of aircraft made by WNF (which is also mentioned on the profile above).

The WNF-manufactured G10 are the only ones which survive to this day. Heavily based on the G6 MW50, they used the fuselage "moons" on both sides and the cowl sets from the K4 model. As their production started at a much later date than Erla, all WNF G10s seem to have used the larger wheels and the new wing. 
The first WNF produced G10 were not new a/c. Instead, WNF converted new G14/U4 to the G10 standard by replacing the DB605AM with the DB605D. These planes can be recognized by the presence of 2 manufacturer data plates on the left forward fuselage. 
WNF production :
610300 – 611099 : G10/U4 (Dec 44 – Jan 45) 611900 – 612010 : G10/U4 (Jan 45)612700 – 613199 : G10/U4 (Jan 45-February 45) 770100 – 770399 : G10/R2 (Jan 45- March 45) 770900 – 771199 : G10/R2 (March 45) 

Layout of the WNF made G10s:

The Werknummer block for the first production (G10/U4) would match the profiles. The only weak link is the long tail wheel.

However, in the photo below. As the G-14 had the short tail wheel, and as most of WNF first batch were G-14. I reckon is acceptable to assume the short tail fin can be used.

A good friend of mine and a Messerschmitt expert Eduardo Brettas has confirmed that many WNF G-10 were produced with short tail wheels and sent to JG52. so the question is set.

The Building Process

Let's start!

After separating the parts from the sprues I started to work on some things that were annoying me.
The first change was to remove the head armour. In the real life it was fixed to the canopy and not to the cockpit as the kit represents it, I still haven't decided if I'll leave the canopy closed or will open it, so this detail would impact in the future decision.

I've used a photo etched micro saw to cut the head armour from the fuselage

Reading the excellent article from Rato Marzack (here: http://www.ratomodeling.com/finished/me109g10_72/ ), he mentions that would be impossible to install the exhausts after painting is done, so I did the same as him and opened the front of the fuselage to allow me to insert them after painted.


Moving to the cockpit. I've cleaned all parts and prepared for painting.

The cockpit interior colour for the "G"series is overall RLM66 including the instrument panel, and this can be confirmed for the below photos:

BF109G=2 cockpit (photo from internet

BF109G-6 cockpit (photo via internet)

Bf109G=6 Wnr.163824 with still have its original interior paint intact

For the RLM66 my choice was Tamiya XF-24 which I consider a close match, especially in this scale. I decided to use an Eduard photo etched seat belts that I had in my stash.
Seat belts ready to go
 I haven't added any scratch built detail extra to the cockpit since I reckon the original cockpit parts have enough details for the scale. Just painted with various Tamiya XF colours and weathered using Tamiya Panel Accent (Grey and Black) and watercolours pencils.

Cockpit floor

Starboard side wall

Port side wall

Instruments panel 

Seat with bottom photo-etched seat belts. The top seat belt will be glue later when the seat is glued to the cockpit.

Here is how it looks after closed. Not much to see.

Another view inside the cockpit
 This model presents a series of rivets like details in shape of a half circle on the aft fuselage sides that I could not confirm on any reference I've checked. So I decided to remove it using Tamiya putty.

Port side view profile, from the excellent book: The Messerschmitt Bf109 - A comprehensive guide for the modeller - Part 2: "F"to "K", by Lynn Ritger.

Port side view showing the erased details

Starboard view showing the erased details 
  Another addition I did was to include a small metal screen to the radiator front. This still needs to sanded and some extra details to be added.

A simple detail, I added a small metal screen to the front radiator. Very easy to make and adds a lot to the kit overall appearance 

Following with my detailing process, I have decided to add the missing battery box located behind the pilots head armour. I also add the rail to hold the chain to keep the canopy opened. If I decide to do so. Everything now is ready to be painted with RLM66 (XF-24).
Added battery box and canopy opening hail

Since this plane will be displayed without the landing gear doors, I decided to add some detail to the legs. In this case, the hydraulic brake lines made out of thin wire.

Landgear and tail detail

Bf109G-10 Landing gear detail

Hydraulic brake line added to the landing gear

I'm thinking about leaving the canopy open. In order to do it I'll need to cut the original canopy. So I found an ex-Airfix G-6 canopy in my spare parts box and cut the front windscreen out of it. A lot of sanding and scratching to make it fir perfectly to the fuselage. Now I'll need to cut the ERLA canopy out of the original. Both canopies will have an extra bath on Future to restore shine before masking.

The difficult task to cut the canopy open.


Moving on to work on bits 'n' pieces, I went through fixing the propeller.
For me the weakest part of this kit is exactly the shape of the propeller.
Here is what a real propeller should look like:
Bf109G-10 propeller (via IPMS Stockholm website)
The kit propeller on the other hand looks like this:
The kit comes with two sets of propellers and are both useless.
As you can see the shape is very bad, too narrow. So I decided to improve the shape a little bit by adding layers of CA Glue on the edges and than sanding it to shape.
Here is what I have ended up with:
Front

Back
I'm happy with the result.
Another part that I'm not happy with is the air scoop for the supercharge.




Huge hole right on the side 

Solid front end and no details
Fixing the issues on the charger air scoop.
The hole was filled with Tamiya putty and sanded flush after drying overnight. Then I scribed the panel line on the scoop opening.
Last but not least, I drilled the opening hole using various drill sizes.



Another detail that I was not happy with was the machine guns. 

Here is how it is represented in the kit:
As indicated by the red arrows, very different from what it should be
They are completely wrong. So I removed them and sanded it flush. Next, I drilled a hole for the a syringe needle (23G) I've used for the gun muzzle.
Much better now

Now to the wings. I have a very particular way to glue the wings. What I do is to glue the upper part to the fuselage first. Making sure it fits perfectly (so don't need to sand). Set aside to dry thoroughly (at least overtime) and then glue the other side. After that, just glue the underside in place.











I have finally decided to cut the canopy open. I also gave it a good bath on FUTURE to restore shine.


Another improvement I did was to add the weld seam to the charger scoop. This feature is very noticeable on all Bf109's. I just used a very thin stretched sprue.
Stretched sprue weld seam

Now was time to improve the wing navigation lights. What I usually do is to use a piece of clear sprue, drill a very small hole on it, paint inside the drilled hole with clear paint (red and green), after the paint is cured, super glue the sprue to the wing tips (after removing the moulded lights first). Remove the sprue excess with sand stick. Fill any gap with superglue and re-sand until it's good. As a final touch, use a nail polish sand stick to polish it and give its shine.


Rough diamond


Sanded and polished


Meanwhile, I've been working on small parts that requires painting and weathering and could be done while waiting for other buildings to be completed.
The set of wheels. The wheel plate was painted gloss black Tamiya X-2. The tires were painted with a mix of 1:XF-85 + 1: XF-10. A little red dot was also painted.

Auxiliary tank was painted with Tamiya XF-80 (my match for RLM76). Declas from spare box (former Bf110 from Airfix). Weathered using Tamiya  Panel Line Accent Color (Black, Grey and Brown) Further Flat coated with Tamiya XF-86

Landing gear painted with a mix of Tamiya paints: 4:XF-2+1:XF-65+1:XF-49. Weathered using Tamiya  Panel Line Accent Color (Black, Grey and Brown) Further Flat coated with Tamiya XF-86


Head armour re-done and painted using Tamiya XF-63
Working on sub-assembles. now was time for the propeller and spinner.
I've painted the spinner flat white Tamiya XF-2 and then masked the spiral using the flexible Tamiya tape.

Next I painted with flat black Tamiya XF-1


Next steps: I applied a coat of Future and than started to weather it using a mix of Tamiya Panel Accent Color (grey and black), and Tamiya weathering set (soot). Finally a coat of Tamiya flat coat XF-86.




The set assembled

The canopy was glued in place for overall painting.


The wheel wells were painted using Gunze H-70 RLM02 and will be covered for overall painting.



The tail wheels were also painted. A characteristic of the Bf109's were the white band which was anti-statics measure. I've painted the white using XF-2 and mask off using Tamiya tape cut using a punch and die set with 1mm difference. I then painted the RLM02 using Gunze H70. Next I painted the tire using Tamiya XF85 Rubber. Some weathering and final flat coat.




I decided to improve the pitot tube by replacing for a syringe needle.
  

Another improvement was made to the Morane master as seen below.


The exhausts were painted using various acrylics colours and weathered using Tamiya Panel Accent.

Time for some body painting. I firstly painted aluminium (Tamiya Titanium) overall and corrected some issues observed. 


I also did a pre-shade using Tamiya XF-01 in preparation for the painting.


It was time for this bird to get its plumage.
First the RLM 76, I used the Gunze H417 RLM76 with a drop of White (3:RLM76 + 1:White)



Following I applied the RLM75, also from Gunze H69, this time with no addition of white. The paint hue straight from the bottle is perfect.


And last, but not least, the RLM83, Gunze H423 also no white added. Mottling done as per Anders profile above.







I wasn't happy with how the camp ended, so I have re-done it from the start. Re-sparayed the RLM76 and re-sparayed the RLM75 and RLM82 mottling.




I also added some white to the RLM82 and 75 and sprayed and very thinned coat on previously painted to add some scale effect.







I have applied the fuselage yellow band and wing chevron.







The decals and all the stencils (too many, too smalls) are now in place and I gave it another coat of FUTURE









Next steps: weathering!

For the weathering I have started using Tamyia Accent Panel. For general grime and dust I use a combination of 3:Grey to 1:Brown.

Here how it is at the moment:










Getting close to the end. After applying a matt coat, I did some weathering using dry pastels and pigments. Nothing worth photographing though.
I already glued the undersides bits 'n' pieces such as: antenna, compensators, auxiliary tank and landing gear.

I also have glued the head armour to the canopy. I did it using FUTURE as glue.


And the aircraft is now complete!
Provisional photos, more to come!






Finally this model is done. Very good model and fittings. A pleasure to build.













That's it! Until my next model.